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Sunday 28 May 2023

Kestrels and another Pair/Nest Box


Both pairs of Kestrels, the Beckton Sewage Works pair and the Quarry pair are doing very well, on both, pretty sure they have chicks, the Beckton pair definitely.

I watched the Beckton pairs nest site recently come to the attention of 3 yearling unpaired Crows, Crows being the bully boys that they are, gave the Kestrels a hard time but good to see the female Kessie in particular responding with her own aggression. She actually caught and held onto the back of one Crow in flight, very peregrinish and great to see the feisty female responding like this. With chicks in the nest to defend, the mindset changes and they eventually saw the Crows off thankfully.

The Quarry pair I think are at a later stage, I plane to visit it this coming Bank Holiday Monday to confirm, by now they should have chicks.

Quite amusingly at the Quarry recently, I watched a nest relief with the male Kestrel incubating with the female Kestrel waiting for him to move, he did not. I have seen Tiercel Peregrines do this on camera, they love to incubate, and I have seen Falcons standing nearby patiently waiting for long periods before he lifts.

This was the case with the male Kestrel, however eventually she just waded in, after waiting patiently for a good few minutes, before physically muscling him off the eggs, great stuff.

                                            Quarry - male being muscled off the chicks

                                                               New Box going in

                                                      Beckton - female clashing with Crows

                                                              Brooding young

On another site, a pair of Kestrels had come to notice and using one of Shaun’s boxes, it was fitted and placed on May 10th. Possibly a bit late now, unless they are really desperate for a site this year, but hopefully 2024 will lure them into it and they will claim it.




Saturday 20 May 2023

Recent Peregrine Stuff


With Peregrine breeding now in full swing, many of the sites that I monitor now have chicks and thoughts will soon turn to fledging as the end of May/June draws ever closer.

As we know sadly Battersea Power Station failed, the age of the Falcon at 12+ finally catching up with her, with the density of single peregrines in London now, I would suspect she will before long be replaced. A pity with the new permanent nest box full accepted, indeed the Falcon spends much of her time sleeping/roosting in it now, a very strong bond.

                                                      Early a.m - Tiercel on nest ledge

                                            Falcon at roost in nest box- this morning 1.07a.m

Last Sunday May 14th I, Shaun and Paul ringed at 2 peregrine sites in London where we have placed nest boxes, both boxes were fully accepted early on and deciding to check them early under licence proved the right move.

The 3 of us have started a new colour ringing project, 3 black numerals on a white background and we used these for the first time, chicks were a perfect size for ringing, and it was a good start to the project with 7 chicks ringed.

On Friday 19th at Parliament, we checked under licence, the nest site on the eastern facing Balcony after recording a nest relief here on April 5th.

                                                Falcon appearing from incubation below

                                                         Tiercel just arrived with prey

                                                              Falcon retreiving prey

A bit of a story here if you recall from previous Parliament updates, with works due to start shortly on Victoria Tower prior to the breeding season, as mitigation, another new nest box was placed on a separate Tower along with a landing/juvenile exercise platform. As soon as this was in situ, the current nest box was dropped down and closed off, the obvious idea being that the Falcon, who as we know is a new one and possibly young, would go straight into the new position.

Unfortunately, she didn’t, showing at times just how unpredictable as a species they can be, she ignored the new position and laid eggs on the floor, not ideal but it sometimes happens with females, especially young ones.

Sadly, we found 2-3 broken eggs, scattered unfortunately as they had no doubt rolled and cracked.

A sad end, hopefully it will change next year.

Monday 8 May 2023

Spain - Guadalhorce Reserve April 28th

Armed with a Fiat 500 hire car, I headed out an hour before dawn on the 28th eventually arriving at Guadalhorce just after dawn. I say eventually, as normal I got lost and spent an extra 10 - 15 minutes or so, trying to get to the other side of Malaga Airport. Although dark, the plan was to keep the Med on my right and I can’t go wrong, sod’s law.

All good fun however, found a location to park and headed out along the river towards the sea, accessing the Reserve from the sea end. It was not my intention, having visited in 2019 with Lee and Mart, my compass was a little bit out and instead of finding the bridge onto the Reserve, I ended up at the sea end.

En route I had around 50 Glossy Ibis leaving the Reserve from roost, possibly from there or further afield, after this many species started giving themselves up, Nightingale for one, great to hear a number from the Reserve.

Reaching the sea didn’t produce the hoped for passing Cory’s Shearwater but did provide a couple of passing Gannets.

As I entered the Reserve, I spied 7 whitish Egret type birds coming in off the Sea, this turned out to remarkably be 6 Squacco Herons and a Cattle Egret, bearing in mind I had 6 Squacco’s on the 26th further up the coast, it’s entirely possible that it was the same birds.

As I entered the reserve, lots of waders everywhere dominated by Black Winged Stilt but so much more to see.

Curlew Sandpiper, Sanderling, Little, Kentish and Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Little Stint, Redshank, Greenshank, Avocet, Common Sandpiper, Turnstone and Whimbrel supporting.

Other goodies soon appeared in the shape of a pair of Woodchat Shrike, Marbled Teal, White Headed Duck, Red Rumped Swallow, Greater Flamingo and Crested Lark.

On the Gull front, ever present Yellow Legged Gulls, were joined by Slender Billed, Audouins and Mediterranean Gull, a large flock of Sandwich Terns also contained a Common Tern.

Over 3+ hours I thoroughly enjoyed it, missed out on others I have seen here in the past but a thoroughly enjoyable morning, this place and Spain never disappoints.